The Courier-Mail

Cheater hackers’ real world threat

- BRITTANY VONOW MICHAEL MCGUIRE

THE leak of cheaters’ emails could cost more than their marriages, with web security experts warning the Ashley Madison website hack has exposed users to potentiall­y crippling online fraud and other attacks.

Black Swan Group principal security consultant Mark Horvat said the avalanche of personal details meant hackers could easily step up their attacks beyond naming and shaming would-be adulterers.

Some home addresses were included in the leak with the amount a person spent on the site as well as the last four digits of their credit cards also revealed.

“Whatever the motivation of the hack, and in this case it’s to expose cheaters, is inconseque­ntial. The fact of the matter is that these hackers were able to expose the liabilitie­s in systems and retrieve people’s informatio­n, including addresses,” he said.

“Depending on whose hands that informatio­n falls into, they can really escalate their attacks on the people involved if they wish.”

It was yesterday revealed that scores of Queensland officials – including police, paramedics and even a local councillor – faced investigat­ions after their government email accounts were used to access the notorious adultery website.

South Australia Liberal MP Stephan Knoll was one high profile name caught up in the dump of some 37 million user profiles worldwide.

Mr Knoll has admitted he was “intensely stupid” to join the Ashley Madison website, but says he only signed up as a joke and has never used the controvers­ial service.

The married father-ofone said his wife, Amy, had found it funny.

Political figures all over the world have been worried about being caught out.

In the US, family-values activist Josh Duggar called himself the “biggest hypocrite ever” after being exposed, while in Scotland, nationalis­t MP Michelle Thomson claimed to be the victim of a “smear campaign” after her name surfaced.

Other names in the Ashley Madison database included employees at places such as the United Nations, the Vatican and corporatio­ns such as Amazon and JP Morgan.

Mr Horvat said the hack could see huge consequenc­es, from broken marriages to false Facebook accounts and even fake bank accounts.

“If you think you’re safe, think again,” he said.

Relationsh­ip counsellor Geoff Fitzgerald said that the hack might see more couples seeking help, whether their details were released or not.

“A lot of people go on to those sites as a fantasy act, they aren’t necessaril­y signing up with the intention of acting out,” he said.

 ??  ?? EXPOSED: South Australian MP Stephan Knoll.
EXPOSED: South Australian MP Stephan Knoll.

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